PARIS (AP) — French police questioned former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn all day Tuesday in a probe into a suspected hotel prostitution ring.
Strauss-Kahn, a one-time French presidential hopeful whose chances were derailed by a sexual assault accusation in New York, arrived at the police station in the northern city of Lille for a prearranged morning appointment. He hadn't emerged by Tuesday night and French media reported that he would be held overnight.
Police are probing a suspected prostitution ring in France and neighboring Belgium that has implicated police and other officials. They have questioned prostitutes who said they had sex with Strauss-Kahn during 2010 and 2011 at a luxury hotel in Paris, a restaurant in the French capital and also in Washington, D.C.
French law permits police to question Strauss-Kahn for up to 96 hours with a judge's approval.
Strauss-Kahn lived in the U.S. capital while he was head of the IMF before resigning his position in May after he was charged by New York police with making a hotel maid perform oral sex. The charges were later dropped.
Two men with ties to Strauss-Kahn have been put under preliminary investigation in France on charges including organizing a prostitution ring and misuse of corporate funds.
Strauss-Kahn's name surfaced in the investigation last fall and his lawyer has asked that his client be allowed to tell his side of the story. One of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers has said that the former French presidential hopeful never knew that the women at orgies he attended were prostitutes.
"He could easily not have known, because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman," Henri Leclerc told French radio Europe 1 in December.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, has been married for two decades to journalist Anne Sinclair, recently named editor of the upcoming French version of the Huffington Post.
French newspapers have dubbed the investigation "The Carlton Affair" after the name of the expensive Lille hotel where some of the meetings took place.
Investigators are seeking to discover if prostitutes were paid using corporate funds from a large French construction company, Eiffage.
"If these parties and these trips across the Atlantic were being financed by a major French group for purposes of prostitution obviously that puts a lot of people in deep trouble because it is a misuse of corporate money," said Christopher Mesnooh, a legal expert who is not linked to the Strauss-Kahn case.
The case is unconnected to the attempted rape accusations in New York.
New York prosecutors dropped the case against Strauss-Kahn in August because the accuser had undercut her credibility by lying about her background and changing her account of her actions right after the alleged attack. She says she was truthful about the encounter and is pursuing her claims in a lawsuit.
Strauss-Kahn has said the sexual encounter was "inappropriate" but not violent.
In a separate case last October, French prosecutors refused to pursue an allegation by a young French writer of attempted rape by Strauss-Kahn.
The Paris prosecutor's office said Strauss-Kahn admitted during questioning to actions amounting to sexual assault but couldn't send the case to trial because it happened too long ago. Writer Tristane Banon said Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during a 2003 interview for a book she was writing, when she was 23.
By GREG KELLER, Associated Press
Journalists film and take pictures of French disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn arriving in a car at the gendarme station, on February 21, 2012 in Lille, northern France, for questioning in connection with a police probe into the organisation of sex parties in restaurants and swingers' clubs in Paris, Washington, Madrid, Vienna and Ghent, Belgium. (FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
(PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
(PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dominique Alderweireld aka 'Dodo La Saumure' looks on during an interview in his house in Tournai, near the French border on January 19, 2012. Alderweireld told AFP he wanted to create a union of brothels' owners, in order to legalize their business. Alderweireld spent three months in jail on suspicion of human trafficking and organising prostitution networks. French media have revealed text messages allegedly sent by Dominique Strauss-Kahn to the businessman (THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images)
In this picture taken on November 15, 2011 shows the front entrance of The 'W' Hotel in Washington, D.C., where former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn reportedly had sex with prostitutes, according to French media reports citing a French police inquiry. Claiming he is the victim of a 'media lynching', the 62-year-old French politician said through his lawyers that he wants to address allegations he took part in orgies with prostitutes in Washington and Paris. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn speaks at an economic forum in Beijing on December 19, 2011 during his first public professional speech since the New York scandal in May, in which he was arrested -- and later cleared -- over accusations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn answers journalists' questions after voting for the second round of French Socialist party (PS) primary vote for France's 2012 presidential election on October 16, 2011 in Sarcelles, northern suburb of Paris. (THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A combination of two images shows left, a picture taken in 2011 of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and right, a picture taken in 2004 of French journalist and writer Tristane Banon. Strauss-Kahn told police he had grabbed the young woman who accuses him of attempted rape, but released her when she resisted, according to a transcript seen by AFP on October 14, 2011. 'I tried to take her in my arms. I tried to kiss her on the mouth. She pushed back firmly. She cried out, more or less, 'Are you mad?' I immediately relaxed my grip. She grabbed her things and left the flat, furious,' he said. The Paris prosecutor's office dropped the investigation into writer Tristane Banon's claim that Mr. Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during a 2003 interview for a book the then-23-year-old was writing, saying they couldn't send him to trial because it happened too long ago. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair wave from the courtyard upon their arrival in their Paris home in Place des Vosges, on September 4, 2011, after flying from New-York. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair leave with his legal team from the Manhattan Supreme Court building in New York on August 23, 2011. Strauss-Kahn thanked supporters Tuesday after a judge dismissed sex charges against him and said that the period since his arrest had been a 'nightmare.' (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Nafissatou Diallo, right, a 32-year-old Guinean immigrant, accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. The charges were dropped. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)